Kira Lane Cove

Kira is a new 65 apartment complex, designed to create a contemporary living space in Sydney’s lower north shore suburb, Lane Cove. Residents can enjoy a luxury lifestyle with panoramic rooftop views, open air cinema, yoga lawn, and with living spaces offering balconies or private courtyards, inviting a sense of indoor/outdoor living. Hyecorp, the developers behind Kira invited buyers to collaborate in the early stages of construction and customise their home, and have crafted the apartments to nurture, community-minded living.

Holmes provided a fire safety strategy for the project to address the hazards that residential occupants may be exposed to. Our team of engineers justified the reduced fire resistance levels of the residential storage room by calculating the temperatures within the structural elements proposed for the building. This was achieved by utilising finite element heat transfer analysis of a concrete slab and the proposed brick wall.

In addition to this, performance solutions were developed to address travel distances to a point of exit, fire-isolated stair discharge, and the location of hydrants.



Macquarie University Michael Kirby Law Building

Designed by Hassell, the new Macquarie University Law School is a flagship building for the university. It is located on a prominent central-campus site currently occupied by the existing Law School building. The building is sited in pristine bushland, which the architects have sought to reflect in the structure and materials.

As an adaptive re-use project, the design aims to retain as much of the existing building as possible, utilising and adapting the existing structure and enlivening it for future education and workplace needs. New mass timber insertions include cantilevered atrium boxes (in timber), an atrium grandstand and timber circulation stairs. The integrated photovoltaic roof and a lightweight composite steel truss also contribute to the building’s sense of light and space.

As mass timber is such a key element in the building Holmes developed several likely fire scenarios through 2D thermal analyses of the structural elements (beams, columns and slab) under exposure to the agreed design fire. Our detailed analyses enabled us to develop Performance Solutions for all timber members including bespoke connections and penetrations. Our assessment and interpretation of the proposed materials and structural elements under varied fire conditions enabled the design principles of flexibility, community, connectivity and sustainability to be realised.

42 Honeysuckle Drive

42 Honeysuckle Drive is a new mixed-use precinct which combines commercial office space with the Little National Hotel. The development will be Newcastle’s first Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) commercial building and aims to set new environmental standards for the Newcastle market, with a commitment to a 5 Star Greenstar and a 5 Star NABERS Energy rating. The project aims to bring commercial investment and boost the city’s economy.

Holmes worked on the commercial portion of the building, providing fire engineering and structural fire engineering services. The structural fire engineering analysis focussed on determining whether the mass timber structure is sufficient to maintain stability in the event of a fire. Advanced finite modelling was undertaken to determine the heat transfer and damage to the CLT floor slabs and glulam timber beams throughout the building. Holmes justified the design and demonstrated the robustness of the timber building under fire exposure. Our team of specialist engineers developed performance solutions to address several non-compliances in the building which included reduced FRL for the retail areas, rationalised zone smoke control, and undertaking CFD modelling to address rationalised stair pressurisation and travel distances within the carpark portions.

Additionally, our team assessed the risk of fire spread via the external sky signage of the Little National Hotel which is designed with a limited amount of combustible material. Holmes demonstrated that the sky signage is unlikely to contribute to the risk of fire spread to and from the building.

Matilda Nepean Hospital

Matilda Nepean Hospital is a new private hospital located in Western Sydney adjacent to Nepean Public Hospital, that will deliver a fresh approach to sub-acute, longer stay hospital care. The 90-bed health care facility is a six-storey building including consultation rooms, gym, kitchen and hydrotherapy pool on Ground Floor, mental health inpatient units on Level 1 and Level 2, rehab inpatient units on Level 3 and Level 4 and two levels of basement carparking underneath.

As a premium health care provider, it is crucial that the hospitals design and fire safety strategy are delivered to high quality, so Holmes was called in to provide fire engineering services to improve occupant egress. We addressed this issue by producing a horizontal evacuation strategy as an alternative to conventional vertical evacuation to limit the spread of fire and smoke between zones, reduce the strain on staff undertaking the evacuation, and facilitate access to firefighters.

Other design aspects Holmes provided performance-based solutions for included:

  • External wall junction fire proofing
  • Sliding doors in patient care areas
  • Separation of rising and descending flights
  • Smoke detector coverage and sprinkler in the Main Switch Room

Holmes worked closely with the client and architect to help achieve the vision to build a world-class hospital that supports the health and wellbeing of Western Sydney’s residents.



Barker College Sports and Learning Precinct

The Rosewood Centre is a state of the art sports and learning precinct that contains classrooms, sport facilities, fitness centre, amentities and supporter seating above the courts. The precinct has been designed to encourage openess and connectivity between the three storeys with large balconies and breakout spaces on the courts’ sides that also support a natural cross ventialtion strategy.

With previous experience at Barker College under our belt, our team of fire engineers were involved with this project from the concept design stages. This allowed our team to design a fire safety strategy that complements the building’s design, support its sustainable goals and advise the client and design team of any potential fire safety concerns early.

Due to the size of the building and use of large span trusses across the 5 court sports hall, areas of design requiring a Performance Solution included non-fire-rated columns supporting the roof, Rodeca panels to external walls, perimeter vehicle access, travel distances to a point of choice of exits and the nearest exit, travel distance between alternative exits, aggregate width of exits, sliding exit doors, hydrant booster location, and omission of sprinklers beneath canopies.

Barker College Maths and Student Hub

Barker College developed a masterplan to upgrade the school’s buildings and facilities to accommodate the growing number of future students and their needs. The Maths and Student hub is an extension to the school’s existing architecture at the adjacent Rosewood Centre, aiming to create a natural learning environment and a more sustainable space for the school community to enjoy.

The building incorporates a unique structural design, utilising both reinforced concrete and mass timber as the structural materials. The mass timber structure throughout levels 2 and 3 uses cross-laminated (CLT) floors supported in part by glulam timber beams and columns, which from a sustainability perspective has environmental benefits because of its low embodied carbon.

Our team of engineers undertook a detailed holistic structural fire analysis of the concrete and timber elements using finite element software to determine the damage to the structural elements under exposure to fire. The results showed that the structure will not be compromised during the fire event leading to any structural collapse or instability.

Other design aspects Holmes provided performance solutions for included exit travel distances, operation of exit doors, fire hydrant location and coverage, omission of sprinklers and smoke exhaust, and fire resistance levels. Holmes also designed a fire safety strategy for the Rosewood’s Centre sports and learning precinct at Barker College.


Department of Education Building | Capella Hotel

The iconic Education Building in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District has been redesigned to transform the heritage-listed building into a world-class 5-star hotel. The Education building was built in 1915 and for generations has been used for government offices, making it inaccessible to the public. Capella Sydney sets a global benchmark for luxury accommodation, cuisine and cultural immersion, including eight levels of guestrooms and suites, a signature restaurant, meeting and event spaces, and high-end health and spa facilities.

From a sustainability perspective, it was important to retain the historic fabric of the heritage building and limit the amount of embodied carbon. Holmes investigated the fire rating of the heritage sandstone for this building. Using performance solutions, we tested the structural performance of the sandstone and original concrete floor structure under fire. The results showed that it had good structural performance, allowing the existing structure to remain with small structural enhancements to ensure fire safety. As a result, the fire engineering solutions provided by Holmes enabled great cost savings for the project. The opportunity for this detailed analysis is only possible from the specialised team and technology Holmes utilises in our structural fire team.

Stage two of the project involves the redevelopment of The Department of Lands building, which is to be competed in 2025. The building will feature a mix of retail, restaurants, meeting and social spaces and event rooms.



Over 39 storeys high, Atlassian’s proposed Australian headquarters, to be funded and developed by one of Australia’s leaders in property Dexus, will soar above the new innovation and technology precinct, Tech Central, located above Central Station as Sydney’s tallest hybrid-timber commercial tower, and the tallest of its kind in the world. The complex design will not only push physical limits but will also set a new benchmark in sustainable design and future-proofing. Atlassian and Dexus have been working with the NSW Government, undertaking a thorough planning process and international design competition to determine the amazing design for the Atlassian building, and various commercial and technical agreements to enable development on the YHA site. The hybrid-timber design will predominantly house commercial offices, with retail and accommodation facilities that are adaptable for the changing needs and expectations of Sydney’s tech community.

Holmes is proud to be contributing to the fire engineering and structural fire engineering design of this signature building. Our experienced engineers have been working closely with the design team and approval authorities to inform the building’s design and fire safety strategy, with careful consideration of the development’s connection with surrounding existing and future developmentsAdvanced thermal and structural fire analysis will be utilised to support and verify the design othe primary exoskeleton and the mass timber habitats. Our team is looking forward to continuing to work on this project for the next few years and contributing to an iconic development that is sure to be considered a significant milestone in Sydney’s built history.

Santa Sophia Catholic College

The multi-storey Santa Sophia Catholic College campus will provide the next generation of students with contemporary learnings and recreational spaces. The innovative design features a six-storey building comprising five interlinked blocks, all connected via extensive, open-corridor play areas with classroom spaces, a creative hub for art and applied sciences, a research hub for science and fitness, a large theatre/hall as part of a performance hub, a professional hub comprising administration and staff space and a community hub comprising a knowledge centre.

The intrinsic theme of this design is connectivity – between students, different areas of the school and the natural environment. The design team recognised the importance of including atria and open corridor play areas for the different year groups.

Holmes’ early involvement in the project allowed the design team to consult on fire safety requirements that could be potentially restrictive to the architectural vision if addressed at a later stage. The proposed architectural design resulted in significant non-compliances to the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. However, Holmes developed fire engineering solutions that utilise the intrinsic architectural features as part of the fire strategy, supported by advanced numerical tools such as computational fluid dynamics and dynamic occupant evacuation.

Each level of the five blocks will be connected via concrete floor slabs resulting in the entire building being considered one large fire compartment. Ventilated circulation spaces have been introduced between the buildings to offset the effects of a fire in the oversized fire compartment. The school’s design also includes numerous stairways connecting the different levels which have all been utilised in our fire safety assessment, offering multiple alternative exits routes for students and staff to reach a place of safety on the ground.

The structural fire engineering analysis focused on the protection of the steel structure in the Performance Hall. Holmes undertook a series of assessments to rationalise the level of fire proofing that was necessary. Additionally, due to the various fire proofing methods implemented in the building, Holmes provided strategies to address the junctions where the different fire protection systems overlap.

Open in late 2021, Santa Sophia Catholic College will be central to the Box Hill communities continued and thriving growth.

The Ainsworth Building

This groundbreaking multi-level timber facility will provide the university with contemporary teaching spaces, lecture theatres and team based learning areas for future medicine and health science students. The unique design features a prefabricated Glulam and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) structure. The building, interconnected with an internal stairway across four storeys also has a custom fire separation strategy, protecting the top storey from a potential ground level fire.

Holmes worked with the client to create flexibility in the design for potential change in building function in the future. The Structural Fire Engineering team undertook a detailed analysis to provide versatility in the floor plate layout in the event of a catastrophic fire event, considering varying options in the space and how it may be used in the future. Numerous egress and fire services design issues were allowed for and considered in the design of the building, ensuring aesthetic appeal and functionality could be maintained whist providing the highest levels of fire safety. Multiple primary egress routes, avenues of attack for fire brigade, and increased provision of wet fire services were key elements to providing a high level of safety throughout the building.

Other design aspects include a striking timber colonnade entry, incorporating both steel and timber elements, unprotected timber within internal areas, bespoke structural connections, all of which were a key focus of the fire engineering strategy to enable the execution of this innovative design.

Greenstone Financial Services Office

Greenstone Financial Services have recently moved into their new office in Norwest Business Park, Sydney. Holmes has been developing a fire safety strategy limited to the fit out of the 8 storey building, with a different design team and certifier looking after the construction of the base building.

The office has been designed to increase interpersonal connections between employees and features a pathway connecting the lower floors to the upper floors with open stairways. The building features voids in Levels 3 to 7 for the non-required stairways and has three fire isolated stairways that provide egress from all office levels.

The fire engineering strategy for the building involved separating the office tenancy into three fire compartments that spanned multiple levels connected by the internal stairs. Automatic fire shutters and fast response sprinkler heads were incorporated into the design so that the risk of fire spread through the void was reduced. Limitations have also been placed on the placement of storage, furniture and combustible materials in the void areas.

Due to the base building having a separate fire engineering report, our team have had to work closely with all the project stakeholders throughout the design and building process to prevent any clashes between both reports and to mitigate any delays to the project schedule.

44 Martin Place

The historic MLC building is a prominent sandstone icon of Martin Place. The heritage listed commercial development, located in central Sydney CBD was originally built in the 1930s, and has previously undergone redevelopment in the 1980s.

The building has recently undergone redevelopment to incorporate a large feature atrium through the centre of the building and add two new storeys above, using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). The building required a bespoke fire engineering strategy that had to consider the heritage nature of the building and the specific requirements by the building owner to have an open atrium and highly interconnected working space.

Holmes previous experience with atrium design and our established relationship with local Fire Brigades allowed our team to provide the client and design team with specialist fire safety advice that shaped the atrium design to satisfy the safety requirements whilst also staying sympathetic to all other stakeholder objectives. The resulting design ticked all the boxes in terms of architecturally beautify, architecturally functional, flexible to accommodate tenant fitouts and robust enough to deliver occupant safety in a fire scenario. Specifically, our design adopted horizontal fire curtains at the base of the atrium void thereby separating out the Ground Level portions and providing flexibility for the use of this Ground Level space to include a café, displays and decorations.

Structural Fire Engineering was also utilised to rationalise and optimise the level of protection to be applied to the mass timber structure while ensuring that structural stability and occupant life safety is maintained. Advanced finite element modelling is being used to establish a holistic and cost effective re-mediation strategy to the dilapidated existing steel concrete composite structure, which does not comply with the most recent fire standards.

The buildings design aims to achieve a number of ‘green’ targets, including a 5-Star NABERs Base Building Energy rating and 4 Green Star Design and As Built rating.

Ariel + Aurora Apartments

Ariel and Aurora Apartments are a set of new, high rise residential towers in Granville. The new development strives to provide convenience and comfort for its community with retail and commercial tenancies on the lower floors of each building and pockets of green spaces 

At 19 storeys, Aurora Apartments is not only the tallest building in The Altitude Collection, but also in Granville. The building features a large, full length glass atrium to maximise natural light and ventilation throughout. Residents also have access to a communal rooftop Sky Garden offering 360° views of Sydney’s skyline. Holmes developed a cost saving bespoke smoke control strategy for the atrium and demonstrated through CFD modelling that the strategy will provide an adequate level of fire safety to occupants in the building. 

Ariel Apartments offers its residents similar views as its neighbour Aurora and features a rooftop Sky Garden as well. The building stands at 18 storeys and does not have an atrium, instead the apartments have been designed to increase natural ventilation and lighting. 

Holmes was engaged from the design stage of this project to provide fire engineering services for both buildings. A number of Performance Solutions were required to support the design intent for both buildings relating to glazed elements in fire walls, travel distances to exit on residential and carpark levels, the use of jet fans in the mechanical ventilation at the carpark areas and the staged evacuation strategy of the towers.  

Holmes worked closely with the architects and project team to ensure that the solutions offered would not inhibit the design intent to create an inviting and convenient area for the community and maximise natural ventilation and lighting for residents.  

Little National Hotel

Currently under construction, Little National Hotel promises to offer local and international travellers a luxurious escape in the heart of Sydney CBD. Utilizing the existing Wynyard Walk structure above Wynyard Station, the hotel boasts 230 contemporary rooms enveloped by a striking curved façade and vertical garden. Guests have access to a modern gym, library and exclusive rooftop lounge and bar with city views.

The hotel structure comprises a steel-framed structure with a composite steel-concrete floor system. Holmes’ team of structural fire engineers, in collaboration with the structural engineers’ team from TTW, developed a unique optimised fire protection strategy for the steel structure. Holmes was able to demonstrate via an advanced thermal and structural fire analysis, utilising non-linear finite element software, that the structural frame with an optimised fire protection strategy can maintain structural stability throughout the entirety of a credible fire scenario. This resulted in major cost savings for the client, as the solution allowed for reduced passive protection of steel members, reducing material and labour costs.

In addition to the structural fire assessment, a number of Performance Solutions were required to support the design intent of the building. These included, for example, reduced fire resistance levels to particular areas, external separation of fire compartments, service penetrations through fire rated elements, travel distances to exits, egress width, stair discharge, protection of fire hydrant booster etc. Holmes also analysed any potential impact the fire strategy of the new hotel may have on the existing Wynyard Walk building and helped enable the two buildings having some combined fire services.

One particular challenge faced in this project was the proposed design option of having an external stair instead of an enclosed fire-isolated stair serving levels above 25m in height. This is not permitted in the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy compliant provisions due to the risk that people would suffer vertigo and the risk that weather conditions, particularly wind, may become more severe above this height. Holmes helped enable this design by performing a detailed analysis of the wind effects on the external stair to show that the wind velocity wouldn’t impact occupant evacuation conditions.

Flinders Centre

Flinders Centre is a high-rise A-grade commercial tower extension to the existing Bankstown Sports Club. The tower was officially completed at the end of 2018, following a 3.5 year involvement by Holmes from the early concept design, through design development and construction till occupation.

Flinders Centre is eleven storeys, containing a gym, childcare, and commercial spaces. A future rooftop bar was also considered in the design, expected to be pursued in the near future. The tower is served by four high speed lifts contained in a feature glass shaft enclosure on the eastern side of the building, complementing the floor to ceiling glass walls on all sides of the building. The glass lift shaft was demonstrated as providing an equivalent level of protection as a conventional lift shaft to evacuating occupant and fire fighters, through a performance based fire engineering solution prepared by Holmes, by providing a suite of subtle fire safety features.

Holmes also took into account existing fire engineering solutions to the remainder of the development, including complex interactions between the existing and new building parts, to allow the building to function as one whilst maximising the safety of occupants during evacuation.  The fire engineered solutions provided by Holmes included:

  • Rationalisations to the stair pressurisation system
  • Extended travel distances
  • Fire stair discharge
  • Omission of smoke exhaust from the office tower
  • Sliding doors used for egress purposes
  • Provision of a combustible roof pergola
  • Rationalised protection of supply air control equipment

Throughout this project, Holmes worked closely with the client, architect, services engineers, fire brigade, Council, BCA consultant, and the builder to develop cost effective, practical and aesthetically achievable solutions which ultimately meet the design objectives whilst achieving suitable levels of fire safety for the building’s occupants and fire brigade personnel.

Holmes has been involved with numerous other extensions and fitouts of other parts of Bankstown Sports Club, including the construction of the Travelodge Hotel, restaurant fitouts, feature light installations, carpark modifications, café remodelling, plant room modifications, and ad hoc advice.

Grosvenor Place

The iconic Grosvenor Place complex is in Sydney’s CBD, bounded by George, Grosvenor, Harrington and Essex Streets. It features a two-storey ground floor entrance lobby and 44 levels of office accommodation providing 80,000 m2  of leasable floor area. The project involved a two stage refurbishment, including remodelling the existing food court and enclosing the lobby.

Holmes was engaged to provide fire engineered solutions where the building was unable to comply with the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions. These non- compliances were due to the constraints of the existing building, that in some cases were not identified until site works began.

The building design incorporated multiple extended travel distances, often through the high space lobby. Alternative Solutions were developed to demonstrate that the large smoke reservoirs provided a greater level of safety for egressing occupants than in a Deemed-to-Satisfy compliant building, despite the extended travel distances. As such, Holmes was able to use the existing attributes of the building without requiring additional fire safety measures.

Reduced dimensions within the paths of travel from back of house and maintenance areas were justified by the use of signage and the implementation of management procedures that incorporated requirements for confined space access. Solutions were also provided for the non-compliant location of fire hose reels and the deletion of sprinklers from beneath external awnings and areas where it was impractical to provide coverage due to the proposed design and use.

A central, architectural element of the building is the circular stairway connecting the lower and upper lobby areas. Our design justified non-compliance with this stairway, allowing the client to maintain the architectural detail of this feature.

Throughout the project Holmes worked closely with Grosvenor Place management to provide solutions that would be conducive to the day-to-day functionality of the building. The resulting assessment presented acceptable solutions for all stakeholders, reducing construction costs and time for the builder, maintaining original architectural features and providing practical and manageable solutions for the end user.

Canterbury Leagues Club

The Canterbury Leagues Club in Belmore has long been one of Sydney’s premier hospitality destinations. Holmes has been involved in many of the upgrades and extensions to the building that have occurred over the years as the club expanded in size and patronage. The Club incorporates bars, entertainment lounges, restaurants, gaming, health club, function spaces and carparking.

Since the building has been constructed in a piecemeal manner, with many extensions at different times, Holmes provided a holistic fire engineering assessment of the building in 2010 to check that the design and operation of the building as a whole would be adequate in the event of a fire. This involved fire and smoke modelling to assess the impacts of potential fires and computer modelling of a complete building evacuation to determine the egress characteristics of the building.

Canterbury Leagues Club recently underwent a master plan redevelopment to add a five-storey basement carpark, café and gaming areas. Holmes provided Fire Engineering services as part of a large consultant team to develop a practical fire safety design that integrates with the existing fire safety design and enables a number of cost savings through the application of Alternative Solutions.

Key benefits of Holmes involvement are the provision of an Alternative Solution to permit the architectural glass lift and water feature to connect all levels of the five-storey basement and permit the fire-isolated stairway to discharge into the lift lobby. These aspects of the design enabled the architect and client to achieve the desired aesthetic in the area that would form the primary entry point for patrons.

As the Club was to remain operational during construction works, Holmes provided an Interim Fire Safety Strategy to justify temporary fire safety non-compliances such as blocking of egress routes and reduced exit widths. Through the application of management procedures that Holmes developed, the construction was able to proceed uninterrupted, whilst still affording a suitable level of fire safety for occupants within the operations areas of the building.

St Vincent’s College

St Vincent’s College, Potts Point has recently finished a refurbishment to its Block B buildings, improving the circulation between classrooms and adding an all-weather outdoor space. The new addition, designed by ThomsonAdsett Architects, features open walkways overlooking a covered breezeway, which has a modern aesthetic featuring glass and concrete, contrasting to the heritage façade it is connected to. The overall result is an impressive construction, improving the functionality of these once disconnected buildings, whilst being sympathetic to its heritage features.

The design incorporates louvered glass walls creating a breezeway, transforming a once dark and neglected area of the building into a bright airy, all weather space for students to enjoy during their class breaks. Holmes played a key role in the realisation of this architectural vision, using a performance based approach to justify omission of sprinklers to much of the breezeway, the use of natural ventilation instead of mechanical smoke exhaust and the use of a glass feature stair for egress.

The experienced Fire Engineers at Holmes used CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modelling to assess the impact of potential fire scenarios and married that with results from and computer based egress modelling to demonstrate that students, staff and visitors would be afforded sufficient time to evacuate safety.

Waterfall by Crown

Waterfall by Crown is set up as four striking buildings, offering 331 apartments. Located in Sydney’s Green Square each building is positioned on a densely planted central concourse of tropical foliage. The vision for the project is to provide ‘the perfect interplay of natural and manmade elements’.

Designed by SJB Architects for Crown Group, Waterfall is a luxury apartment development soon to redefine the residential market of the area and streetscape for the surrounding community to also appreciate. Three of the four towers are 8 stories high and are connected by long open-air walkways. One of these buildings creates a feature in itself with a waterfall on the façade, spanning its full height, giving rise to its name. The fourth tower, a 20-storey signature building featuring a roof top open-air cinema, will rise elegantly above the lavish greenery below.

Holmes first became involved in the project at concept stage in 2014 and through the process has worked with the wider design team as the project design has evolved.

One of the main challenges we faced through this project was the connection of these buildings and vertical voids interconnecting the floors within these buildings. We had to establish how to address the fire and smoke spread from the residential units into the voids and subsequent spread through the entire development. We rationalised this issue by reducing the overall fire and smoke compartments and improving egress as a result.

Additionally to assist with the staging of the development we created an interim fire safety strategy to enable staged occupation for the development so residents could move in prior to the entire development being completed.

Skyhaus, 420 Macquarie Steet

Located in Liverpool, one of the key satellite suburbs of Sydney, 420 Macquarie Street is currently the tallest residential development in the area. The residential complex comprises two 32 storeys towers plus a sister tower at six storeys. The buildings include retail spaces on the lower levels and swimming pool located on a shared roof space. The complex will usher in a new generation of high-end living into Liverpool, and inject more life into the already vibrant community.

A very high degree of fire engineering and structural fire engineering principles were applied to the building. One of the unique input Holmes  brought to the project was the reduced flat slabs that were demonstrated to achieve the required fire resistance levels throughout the building. This performance solution resulted in considerate savings to the project including approximately 1600m3 of concrete and 4000 tonnes of concrete. This not only improved the constructability of the project, but significant benefits were realised such as improved cost-efficiency and simpler construction techniques, while also improving the occupational performance of the complex over the lifetime of the structure.

Despite the significant benefits this provided in reduction to construction resourcing costs and timeframes, notable flow-on benefits of the thinned slabs was the design flexibility for the project. Standardised façade systems were catered for without increasing the overall inter-storey height of the building, and slab set-downs in wet areas were also not required, resulting in further cost savings to the project. Subsequently, the considerable benefits to this project has led to this structural fire engineering analysis to be conducted on a multitude of reinforced concrete projects, with dozens completed to date.

Eastlakes Live by Crown

Developed in collaboration with award-winning architects, fjmt, Eastlakes Live has been inspired by native Australian plants and golden hues of nature. The Eastlakes shopping centre redevelopment aims to provide a revitalised destination that is integrated with modern apartment living, linking to the adjacent Eastlakes reserve.

The project has been split into two sites and stages, one on either side of Evans Avenue. The north site (being built first) is a single storey shopping mall, upon which there will be three blocks of residential units on the Podium landscaped space. The south site, currently at concept/early development will be a larger two-three storey shopping centre designed with an X formation. The ground floor will feature an extensive shopping complex, creating a unique shopping experience for not only the residents but also opening the development to the community at large. On top of the shopping centre, a large landscaped podium will house four feature residential tower blocks. The architectural form of these building will be impressive with the largest residential tower in an arc formation.

Based on the preliminary architectural drawings, Holmes was able to identify areas where the design either required or could be enhanced by Alternative Solutions including solutions to permit reduced fire ratings.

The retail areas in the southern site require a smoke exhaust system, however rather than taking the broad approach specified in the building code, we have undertaken Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling of the retail malls to predict the movement of smoke from a number of hypothetical fires. This enables a more efficiently designed smoke exhaust system, and additionally will intend for the smoke zones to be larger than those permitted in the building code. Holmes in addition to the retail space added significant value and design flexibility to the project by assessing the holistic risk of the residential portions of the building based on its use and specific design intent.

Assessing a project and how the design can be advanced using performance-based design is what our team strives to develop, resulting in a design solution that is advantageous to all stakeholders involved, with advanced safety for the end users as the ultimate focus.


40 King Street

40 King Street is an existing 100-year old eight storey office building in central Sydney. Due to a proposed major refurbishment, the building had to comply with the requirements of the current Building Code of Australia. The existing concrete slabs within the building could not comply with the current concrete code requirements due to insufficient concrete cover to the reinforcing bars. To upgrade the existing slabs to comply with the current code requirements would involve the addition of passive fire protection to the slab soffit; this would not only have been costly but time consuming and would damage the existing heritage fabric of the building.

Holmes carried out advanced analyses to determine the inherent fire resistance of the existing slab. The analysis demonstrated that the existing slab had enough inherent fire resistance to withstand a realistic fully developed fire, thereby negating the requirement to apply additional passive fire protection or to thicken the slab to meet the prescriptive requirements of the Code and Standards. This provided significant cost savings to the project and minimised disruption to the fabric of the existing building.

Top Ryde Shopping Centre

The Top Ryde Shopping Centre is a large multi-use building incorporating a retail shopping centre (82,000 m2 GLA), above and below-ground car parking, vehicular access tunnels, cinemas, restaurants, gymnasium, childcare centre, medical centre and library, all spread over five below ground levels and seven above ground levels.

Holmes provided extensive fire engineering and added significant value to this project through justification of reduced fire resistance levels throughout the building, drastically reducing construction timeframes and costs; increased travel distances and reduced aggregate egress widths, providing significantly increased Net Lettable Area; rationalised smoke exhaust and oversized smoke zones within the vehicular access tunnels, central atria and retail areas; omission of smoke exhaust from a number of areas such as the cinemas and library; reduced perimeter access to the building; and the use of two lengths of hydrant hose in the carpark and retail areas.

Subsequently, Holmes has provided fire engineering services for the seven residential towers which are located on top of the shopping centre.

V by Crown

V by Crown is a new 30 storey residential development in the heart of Parramatta, incorporating 519 apartments, with a mix of short-term and long-term accommodation. Designed by Allen Jack Cottier with interiors by Koichi Takada Architects, the building also includes an archaeological display and interpretation centre, international business centre, retail areas, rooftop bar, swimming pool, gymnasium, theatrette and six-storey basement carpark.

Holmes provided extensive fire engineering for the project, doubling the allowable occupant load within the Level 26 roof top bar. Computer simulation of fire, smoke and evacuation was utilised to demonstrate that the increased occupant number coupled with the installed fire safety systems resulted in safe egress time. Additionally, Holmes justified the design of an alternative smoke detection system within the Class 3 portion to reduce the likelihood of false alarms; omission of passive fire protection to multiple steel beams; reduced fire resistance levels in the retail areas; justification of extended travel distances and oversized corridors to avoid the need for additional smoke doors and egress stairs; unprotected openings between separate fire compartments; the use of glazing within fire walls; discharge of fire–isolated exits; fire hydrant and fire hose reel coverage; deletion of sprinklers from portions of the building; and deletion of zone smoke control to the retail and assembly portions of the building.


Sydney Town Hall

The iconic Sydney Town Hall is a heritage listed, 1860’s High Victorian style building containing three halls as well as administration areas and the Mayor’s office. The halls are used for events staged by the City of Sydney Council and are also hired out for functions.

The project involved refurbishment works integrated with an extensive fire safety upgrade of the entire building. The key client objectives were increasing the level of fire and life safety and heritage asset protection. The building was required to be partially occupied during the upgrade process.

Holmes worked with the design team including architects, heritage consultants, the NSW Fire Brigades, fire service contractors and The City of Sydney, to formulate a Fire Safety Upgrade Strategy that would achieve the fire safety objectives without altering or destroying the building’s unique heritage fabric and artefacts.

Our team of fire engineers provided solutions to resolve fire safety issues related to occupant egress, fire separation of the stairs and lift shaft, fire hydrant provisions, fire hose reel design, sprinkler design and smoke exhaust. Due to the unique nature of the project and heritage significance of the building, these solutions were developed to not only exceed those of the Building Code of Australia Performance Requirements but also be respectful of the ornate features of the building. Essentially the solutions were created to be in-keeping with the original design so visitors of the space weren’t detracted by the beauty of the building with modern fire systems.

During the construction review process, Holmes developed a number of interim fire safety strategies to resolve critical fire safety issues that were temporarily created during construction.

Throughout the project, Holmes’ role enabled the client to significantly improve the level of fire and life safety and property protection for the refurbished heritage building. This was achieved by delivering interim and final fire safety solutions that met regulatory and stakeholder requirements whilst being heritage sensitive, timely and affordable.

Infinity by Crown

Infinity by Crown is a landmark multi-use apartment building designed to be a centerpiece of the Green Square precinct revitalization. The development contains 401 apartments, mixed-use retail, a convention center, pool gymnasium, theatre, music room and lounge, all built atop a multi-storey basement carpark and a subterranean pedestrian link to Green Square train station. The striking design features two intertwined loops representing a connection between public and residential space.

Holmes became involved with the project at the concept development stage where we provided Building Code Australia (BCA) compliance advice and identified where fire engineering could assist in maximizing design flexibility and adding value to the project. The design has been pushed far beyond the limits of the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, with the Fire Engineering forming an integral part of the design from the outset.

Holmes’ well established relationship with both Crown Group and Koichi Takada Architects, across multiple projects, formed a solid platform for the development of the conceptual design, and the ongoing design development. Holmes’ early involvement provided the architect with the confidence to apply significant architectural freedom which was necessary to enable such an ambitious design to be realized. Holmes’ understanding of the key drivers and aspirations for Crown Group and Koichi Takada Architects has resulted in a fire safety design which is cohesive with the architectural intent.

Through collaboration with a large design team including the client, architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer and fire services engineer, Holmes developed an intimate understanding of the building, and as a result was able to provide a thorough BCA Assessment at the completion of the Development Application phase, which formed the foundation for the evolution of the design going forward.

Holmes has since documented a significant number Fire Engineering Alternative Solutions to justify deviations from the building code including:

  • Reduction of fire resistance levels (FRLs) to retail portions of the development – providing construction time and cost savings ;
  • Justification of extended travel distances in residential and carpark areas – enabling one of the fire-isolated stairs that was in the original design to be deleted;
  • Provision of fire dampers in lieu of sub-ducts in the stair pressurisation relief air shafts – minimizing the space requirements for the shafts and maximizing the saleable area of the apartments;
  • Justification of discharge of fire-isolated stairs to the central open space where the path of travel to the street requires occupants to pass within 6 m of unprotected openings and back beneath the building – minimizing the area required for fire-isolated passageways and enabling the exterior façade of the building to remain clean and maximizing retail street frontage;
  • Validation of residential public corridors exceeding 40 m in length – omitting smoke doors in the middle of corridors that would have compromised the architectural objectives of the interior design;
  • Omission of sprinklers on the underside of the high level building overhang, over the swimming pool, and within selected areas within the residential apartments – deleting sprinkler heads required by the code, but which would be unlikely to activate or be ineffective in a fire;
  • Provision of jet fans within the basement carparks – enabling a more cost effective and efficient design of the ventilation system; and
  • Removal of the need for compliance for speech intelligibility of the occupant warning system within the basement carparks – providing a pragmatic approach to a frequently occurring issue.

Arc by Crown

Arc by Crown is an iconic mixed use development, an architectural statement, one that changed the Sydney skyline. Designed by Koichi Takada Architects, Arc by Crown is situated in the heart of Sydney and features a striking design incorporating heritage-inspired lower levels transitioning to a modern glass-and-steel tower, capped with a number of steel arches. The building incorporates multiple levels of basement carparking, two levels of retail and a combination of serviced and owner occupied apartments with a rooftop terrace.

Holmes provided Building Code of Australia (BCA) advice in the early stages of the project to identify potential non-compliance with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions and areas where Fire Engineering could add value to the design. This enabled the design team to submit a bold design to council for Development Application approval, with the confidence that significant BCA non-compliances had been identified with a strategy in place to justify Alternative Solutions.

Arc by Crown contains a number of unique features that required Holmes to develop innovative, yet practical fire engineering solutions whilst still maintaining an acceptable level of fire safety. One example is the glass lift shaft connecting all above ground storeys, providing spectacular views to the north. The BCA prescriptive provisions require this shaft to be of masonry construction however, by providing a suite of subtle fire safety features, in-keeping with the architectural intent of the building, Holmes Fire was able to demonstrate that fire spread via the lift shaft would be mitigated, permitting the architecturally significant centrepiece glazed lift design to be embraced as a fire protected feature.

The design also incorporates natural ventilation for a number of the apartments. Holmes was able to develop a fire safety solution that enabled open windows in the fire rated walls between the apartments and the common corridors. This provides bright and airy living spaces that would not have been achievable under the BCA Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.

Other Alternative Solutions provided by Holmes included:

  • Extended travel distances
  • Omission of stair re-entry facilities
  • Location of the fire brigade booster
  • Omission of sprinklers from cupboards and concealed spaces
  • Provision of natural smoke ventilation to the through site link

Throughout this project, Holmes worked closely with the client, architect, services engineers, fire brigade, builder and project certifier to help identify fire safety issues, develop cost effective, practical and aesthetically achievable solutions which ultimately meet the design objectives whilst achieving suitable levels of fire safety for the building’s occupants and fire brigade personnel.